A money laundering case involving a former congressman represents a test for the ability of El Salvador's authorities to unravel the complex links between political elites and organized crime networks.

Former congressman Wilver Rivera Monge is on trial on money laundering charges alongside convicted drug trafficker Jorge Ernesto Ulloa Sibrián, alias "Repollo," and 26 other defendants suspected of hiding illicit profits connected to Ulloa Sibrián's cocaine trafficking operations, reported El Diario de Hoy

The money laundering charges were formally brought against Rivera Monge in September 2014. Prosecutors say that Rivera Monge and members of his immediate family laundered roughly $8 million US in drug profits. The allegations suggest Rivera Monge used $1 million US of these illicit profits to fund his 2012 campaign for Congress, reported La Prensa Grafica

Ulloa Sibrián was arrested in 2013 and ultimately sentenced to 77 years in prison in 2014 for his role in heading up a cocaine transport operation that spanned much of Central America, working in collaboration with the Texis Cartel and other drug trafficking cells in the region. Authorities say that Ulloa Sibrián's network was responsible for moving at least 16 tons of cocaine through Central America en route to the US. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Texis Cartel

Immediately after Ulloa Sibrián's arrest in 2013, El Salvador's security minister denied claims that any members of Congress had been implicated in the organized crime boss' trafficking network; a claim he later had to retract as evidence of Rivera Monge's involvement emerged. At the time of Ulloa Sibrián's arrest, Rivera Monge was already being held by authorities on suspicion of affiliation with the Texis Cartel.

InSight Crime Analysis

Rivera Monge's trial may set an important precedent for El Salvador's justice system and its ability to unravel webs of connection between powerful political elites and organized crime networks.

Ulloa Sibrián's conviction in 2014 was a rare victory against a powerful and politically well-connected drug trafficker for Salvadoran authorities. Given the size and duration of Ulloa Sibrián's operation, which dates back to 2000, there is reason to believe that he long operated with some degree of official protection

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

Judges and prosecutors hesitant to bring charges against politically well-connected traffickers present systemic concerns for El Salvador's justice system.

Alleged high-level members of the Texis Cartel have proven particularly slippery in evading conviction in El Salvador's court system on charges ranging from car theft to money laundering

 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...